Another Way to Think About #CareerGoals

What are your career goals? Having a dream job is a great place to start. But having a fulfilling career is a much bigger goal than getting your dream job.

What a dream job does is give you the long term vision of what you ultimately want to achieve. But in the short term, you will need to set targets, small steps that will usher you to the big move.

Your career goals are be made of milestones. It could be getting additional qualifications, or getting your work published in a peer-reviewed journal. It could be getting a pay raise, getting a job in a particular institution or getting a promotion. It could also be delivering on a very challenging task. Or learning a new language.

All these milestones show that you are on top of your game, that you are making the necessary steps and effort towards your long term vision. You can  demonstrate that you are highly skilled, qualified and have the required experience for the next opportunity.  But is this enough?

The reality is that milestone take time to come by. You will need a several months, even years before you get that degree, before you can speak a new language or before you can get a pay raise.

But there are things you can do daily that can make you truly outstanding. Are these missing from your list of #CareerGoals?

Becoming Diligent. To be diligent is to work with conviction, delivering your duties with care no matter how insignificant the task may seem. You are diligent when you earnestly seek to do everything the right way, paying attention to every detail. Most people will only take seriously the tasks they consider to be very big or when under supervision. Fewer people are thorough with mundane or routine tasks.

You can exercise diligence in the smallest ways, like the way you format the documents you write, the fonts you use, the grammar, the spellings, the creativity. Most organisations have corporate branding, do you incorporate that in the presentation of your work?

It is my manager at my first workplace who told me the importance of diligence. On the first day of work, he read me a verse from Proverbs 22:29.

You do not have to be religious to believe the wisdom in this verse. What he told me literally was that if I wrote a document and left it on his desk, he should be able to tell that I was the author just by the presentation of the work, from the style of writing to the presentation. This attention to detail, he said, is what makes one professionally inimitable. Diligence will take you places, he said.

There are many people who do not bother to pay attention to the details. Do not underestimate this number. You can easily be outstanding, just by being thorough in your day to day work. It is impossible not to notice a diligent person.

Becoming Disciplined. This is more than being principled. How consistent are you, really? It is very common for people to show commitment when things are starting. The real challenge is following through. You come to work on time when you first get the job, have you noticed how you start to slack after a few months in. As your enthusiasm goes down, your standards go down with it. The most excellent people are the ones who are able to do something over and over again, maintaining the energy it took them to start.

You need to make it part of your career goal to be the one in the team who does the most. Not the most work, but the most in terms of the commitment you give to a task, the enthusiasm, the passion, the drive. People around you (not just your colleagues) should be able to talk about how committed you are to the work just by your consistency of effort.

Becoming Dynamic. What can you do that is not in your primary line of duty? At a meeting that could use more publicity, would you support the communications team to tweet or do a vlog? Do you volunteer to participate on committees such as procurement, or strategic planning? How often do your peers ask you to review their concept notes? How good are you with IT equipment? Do you know colleagues outside your team, in a department entirely different from yours, how do you contribute to the work they do?  Can you make introductions and connect people? How agile are you?  How much of an asset are you to the team, beyond your technical skills?

Everyone likes a resourceful person on their team. Become that person! You will be in demand. And you can leverage that momentum for a big push forward.

The challenge with setting only big milestones is that when you miss the mark, you will be disappointed. Plus, there are no guarantees. Having a degree does not guarantee you a job, a promotion does not come easy, you really do not want to leave too much to chance.

Being diligent, disciplined  and dynamic is totally in your control. You can work on these qualities daily. Once you build a reputation around them, there is no telling how far they will take you. You can bet on these goals to become an all round excellent person. People like to associate with excellence.

Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men. (Proverbs 22:29 KJV)

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